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  1. At a party, you mention that you are currently taking a unit called “Language, Cultures, and Communication.” One of the people you are talking to says, “Oh, I’ve always been fascinated by languages, and yet I don’t even know the answer to a simple question: how many languages are there?” What would you say in response? (Your answer should incorporate definitions of language and dialect and explain how to distinguish between the two.)

Language is the ability of an individual or system to communicate. There are many forms of languages that range from machines, animals, to human beings. The ability of human beings to communicate is what referred to language. Complex systems use language in ensuring that their primary functions fulfilled. Dialect, on the other hand, is a language used in a given region for the purpose of communication. Dialect refers to a specific group of people who use it frequently. A social class of people may be using a given language in their communication making it an identity for them.

In the world today, there are different languages and those who have done research have indicated that the number of languages has ranged from 5000 to 7000. However, this depends on the perspective of each and how different people using the different words in communication. There are different words used in different contexts in different regions. The use of same words with different language makes it difficult in the classification of language in this region. However, there are both sign and oral languages in the world. Human beings use language to make economic benefits. Where no language exists, it becomes difficult for them to communicate meaning that they cannot make any progress.

Dialect, on the other hand, is distinguished by its use in a specific region, social class of people, and a group of individuals who exist together. The vocabulary and grammar choice in this group are specific meant to make them understand what they are communicating. The pronunciation also might be different depending on the addiction or the level of understanding the exists within the users. The use of dialect may make words have different meanings from the commonly known language by the rest of the community where the group exists.

2. Andy was born and raised in the US, but she decided to attend university in the UK. After graduating, she found a job in London, where she has lived for five years. When she talks to family and friends on the phone, all comment on how much she sounds like a Brit. On the other hand, after returning from a recent visit to the US, her British co-workers and friends all joked that she sounded “even more American than usual.” Use concepts from speech accommodation to explain why Anne’s dialect features seem to change?

Dialect change is the act of changing and trying to talk like people who belong to a given group of language. The pronunciations are according to that group where one lives. Dialect has specific pronunciation and grammar and a choice of vocabularies belonging to a specific group using it. When it comes to the case of Andy, when he moved to British to study he had adopted to the language used by different groups in use hence making a sound like a Brit. The English language in the British is not the same as the one used in the rest of the world. When those in the British speak, they can easily differentiate with the rest of the world. The words used in Britain are not the same as the one used in the rest of the world. The pronunciation and grammar used in British is different from that of the US. The move to the UK and adopting the language here made Andy have a distinct language from that those from his family had. The use of the Brit grammar made it that they said he sounds Brit because of his pronunciation and grammar.

On the other hand, his friends in the British saying that he sounded American was likely since on going to the US for holidays he could adjust towards speaking American English. The pronunciation and grammar in the US are somehow different from that in British. The different pronunciation and grammar made it possible that he could be heard sounding American. The change that occurred based on the region that Andy stayed in was common. Also, with the fact that both the family and the friends knew the place of domicile on particular occasions, it was common that they could realize the changes that had occurred in Andy.

3. Explain what is meant by the term linguistic relativity. Offer one piece of experimental evidence that suggests it is valid, and one piece that suggests the view is unfounded. (Be sure to explain the reasoning behind the evidence you present.)

Linguistic relativity is the act of linguistic having an effect on the scientific cognitive of a human being. Language relativity affects the speakers in the world. Usually, there are points where given characteristics associated with some certain language speakers. The language they use may have changed them towards having that particular character. Suggestions have suggested that linguistic can influence decision making and actions. Language can influence decisions according to the way it expresses given information. The different pronunciation of a given words and grammar can bring out different perceptions among people. The pronunciation and grammar make it possible that language relativity can be a big challenge when it comes to decision makers.

A given language use of the same information may be read differently according to the place where one originates and the language used. The interpretation also may be different depending on the understanding brought out in given language. Therefore language relativity is important in taking a given language decision. Decision makers should understand where one originates, the kind of language used as different words may be used to express something different from what they may be thinking. Language relativity can be used in given groups, as it will assist in bringing an understanding of what different people may mean in their expression. The use of language in any group is different from different groups and regions that are in the world. Given pronunciation in a particular region at a point may be referring an expression of a given feeling in a given group in a particular region in the world. On the other groups, it may mean the exact opposite of what had occurred. The different use of language, in particular, makes language use from different users and having an influence on its users. All this makes language relativity be one that influences change in the users making to express different things.

The chart below represents findings from the sociolinguistic interviews conducted by William Labov in his study of dialect features in New York City in the 1960s. Explain the significance of this chart: what is reflected in the graph, why is that important, and how does it support the central claim of Labov with relation to language variation and style-shifting?

According to sociolinguistics style variation is the difference that exists in the linguistics associated with specific social meanings. When looking at social meaning, this includes the people, and different groups talked. Linguistic variation is where the concept of linguistic style is brought out without variation when basing on the social meanings. The act of variation can be brought out phonologically’ syntactically, and lexically. The graph drawn have a great importance in variations. It shows the level of how language required from the least to the highest. When language used least and the level of which variations can be shown most in language.

Observed language is the one that varies most from one dialect to the other. Observed language can be different from what the other may be observing. Observations can be different depending on the style of observations that the language was based when it was observed.

The interview can bring out the exact meaning of what a given language meant. This will depend on who was interviewed. The interview can bring out little deviation in language as the involved parties could have expressed the exactly used language in its expression. The facts used will be got well leading to little deviation at the end.

Reading can lead to a moderate level of deviation. This is because the reader may not be getting all the facts well. However, the level of understanding what the writer-reader meant will be relatively higher.

List of words will lead to a significant high deviation. This because different words can present a different meaning according to region group or sociolinguistic class that one belongs.

Minimal pairs will lead to a very high deviation, as one will not understand well what they meant. If one comes from a different region, a different meaning will be got leading to a different meaning. Making a huge deviation seen.

5. In the German-speaking sections of Switzerland, throughout the day one encounters both Standard German and Swiss German. The table below captures circumstances in which one hears each. What sociolinguistic phenomenon does this data reflect? (Your answer should name the phenomenon using the proper sociolinguistic terminology, give a definition, identify the relationship between the languages, and describe their respective properties within the system.)

Standard German Swiss German Both

Shopping X

Literary novel X

Television soap opera X

Radio broadcast X

Primary school classroom X

Secondary school classroom X

University lecture X

Courtroom proceedings X

Newspaper article X

Arguments with spouse X

Work orders to a service provider X

When it comes to the sociolinguistic phenomenon, one should understand what exists and which language is better in any given circumstance. The sociolinguistic phenomenon in this situation is Speakers and communities.

If sociolinguistics is about language about society, it means about large social units such as tribes, nations, and social classes. Society consists of individuals and both sociologists and linguists would agree that it is essential to keep the individual firmly in the center of interest and to avoid losing sight of him while talking about large-scale abstractions and movements. There is an even more important reason for focusing on the individual in sociolinguistics is that no two speakers have the same language because no two speakers have the same experience language. The German people here belong to two different categories. Where they belong and what they have been able to learn a language that is somehow different from what the others in the native country know. The pronunciation might be different making it impossible that they can have the same understanding. There are situations where similar language comes out differently according to the situation, and geographical location of the speakers is. This makes the language be used differently according to the circumstances that it is used. There are basic points that one will find that the language remai similar without any change. However, whwre it goes to the involvement of others, it will lead to the communication being different. This can range from meeting those who are not the native speakers influencing the language of others so as to fit them in the converstion.


Agha, Agha, 2006. Language and Social Relations. Cambridge University Press.

Bauer, Laurie (2003). Introducing linguistic morphology (2nd ed.). Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press.

Holmes, Janet, 2010. An introduction of sociolinguistics. London and New York: Longman.

Hudson, R.A. 1988. Sociolinguistics. Printed in Great Britain: Cambridge University Press.

Maiden, Martin & Mair Parry. 1997. The Dialects of Italy. London: Routledge, p. 2.

Wolfram, Walt and Schilling, Natalie. 2016. American English: Dialects and Variation. West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons, p. 184.